Thursday December 2nd, 2021 7:43PM

Gainesville City Schools moves forward with Student Success Center

By Alyson Shields Reporter

The Gainesville City Schools Student Success Center is on track, according to an update deliver to the Gainesville City School Board Monday night.
The center has been under development for several months, and Deputy Superintendent Sarah Bell made the announcement they were officially moving forward Monday.
The new center will be housed at Gainesville High School, moving the media center. "Gainesville High School is a very centralized location, so certainly our students already feel comfortable there. Putting services at the high school eliminates a lot of barriers, whether there are transportation or language barriers, or even stigma barriers," said Bell after the board meeting. "But we also feel since it's a centralized location for the community, we will be able to open our doors to elementary school students, middle school students, not just from our district but from the surrounding area as well, and also provide some trainings that would be beneficial to the community."
Bell said the center is designed to be a hub for students and families to get basic needs, counseling, therapy, college and career counseling and academic support.
"I think what we're seeing is more of an effort to educate the whole child," said Bell. "In the time of No Child Left Behind, the emphasis was on reading and math, but increasingly we're seeing students who demonstrate some needs, whether those are support with anxiety, support with depression, or even substance abuse issues do need some help getting over the hump before they are able to achieve all they can from a reading and math perspective, so this is really about focusing on the whole child."
Preliminary work through maintenance and operations will begin this summer, and construction will begin in the fall, Bell said, adding they had also been screening and conducting interviews for a center director.
"We hope to identify a center coordinator by spring break, named to the board at the April meeting, then we plan to start on some preliminary construction pieces through our maintenance and operations efforts this summer, to go ahead and strip down the area we plan to use - it's a wing of Gainesville High School - then in the fall, we hope to go ahead and start getting everything installed. Hopefully in early winter, we'll have the center open."
Bell said the center will also be the beneficiary of the Medical Center Foundation golf tournament in the fall, with the funds going towards the construction of the center. A formal announcement of the arrangement will be made at a later date.
Northeast Georgia Health Systems has been working with the school for over a year on the mental and behavioral health portions of the center plan, according to Bell. She added the center was also in line with the directions from the United Way Community Game Plan.

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